Most consider the winter season to be a perfect time for fantasy, but with the upcoming release of Sarah J. Maas's Queen of Shadows, Bloomsbury disagrees - and so do we. So this week for our top 10 list, we are choosing our ten favorite fantastical, magical and/or otherwise supernatural creatures that may help or hinder a fantasy hero(ine) in their quests. 

Painting by Sergey Ryzhov

1. Phoenix

As both a symbol of rebirth and an actual magical being, a phoenix embodies many of the qualities we tend to look for in fantasy. These are fierce, fearless birds whose resilience goes so far as to have them repeatedly reborn from their own ashes. Phoenix tears heal the gravest of wounds, and they are - as Albus Dumbledore puts it - extremely loyal creatures.

Loved them in: Harry Potter

2. Dragon

You can't go wrong with a dragon. They are epic, fiery and pretty much the most bad-ass creature in any fantasy book, which goes a long way in explaining why dragons are so popular and included in every fantasy book possible. There's a fine line between wanting them to really exist and keeping them in fantasy books, however, and while it would be amazing to see one in real life... they might eat us.

Loved them in: A Song of Ice And Fire

3. Capaill Uisce

Less popular than the two mentioned so far, the Capaill Uisce (pronounced as kapal ishka, for all parties concerned) have nevertheless been around in stories and legends alike for centuries. On the shores of the many lochs in the Scottish Highlands, stories were told of demonic water horses. The Capaill Uisce are said to dwell in waters and come to land sporadically, mostly to hunt humans and be hunted by humans in turn. As many of the creatures featured on this list, the Capaill Uisce are fierce, but with a potential for a great heart. And we sincerely recommend all stories which feature them, however prominently.

Loved them in: The Scorpio Races

4. Hippogriff

The Hippogriff has always been a favourite. Majestic, proud and a kind creature (if you're nice to it...Malfoy), they wish to be approached with proper etiquette and seek respect from the approaching wizards. We're introduced to Buckbeak, a companion of Hagrid who is a beloved character that fans grew to love, and is always included in the favourite magical animals in the Wizarding World. 

Loved them in: Harry Potter

5. Wyvern

Somewhat similar to its cousin, the Dragon, a Wyvern is most often depicted as a winged reptilian with a dragon head, two legs and a long, rough tail. Depending on the legend, Wyverns come in both land and sea-dwelling forms. While Wyverns are said to be less fierce and intelligent than Dragons, though alike in appearance, many of the modern fantasy tales would very much beg to differ. As would we.

Loved them in: Throne of Glass

6. Pegasus

Everyone is familiar with the Pegasus. We are repeatedly introduced to the majestic animal in many stories, but one of my favourites is Blackjack from the Percy Jackson series. Loyal, useful and very beautiful, the friendly pegasus is a wonderful creature that we all wish would exist in real life. 

Loved them in: Percy Jackson

7. Sphinx

Part human, part lioness, a Sphinx is an ancient guardian to many places of worship or importance. And by ancient, we mean ancient Egypt ancient. Unlike many other creatures listed above, a Sphinx is mostly considered to be lawful neutral where good-and-evil alignment is concerned. And despite its fierce appearance, a Sphinx is considerate enough to ask a riddle quite calmly before leaping into action. If the other side is smart enough to answer correctly, they will be granted admittance to the place a Sphinx is guarding. If not, well... we hope you can outrun a lion.

Loved them in: Harry Potter

8. Unicorn

This is a creature that everyone knows. The horse with the horn is the image of innocence and beauty, they're magnificent and one of the most well-known magical creatures. Although they're well-adored, they also come with some uses for wizards in their lifetime with things including potions. The horn and hair are used as well as the blood of a unicorn helping a wizard who is near death. Killing a unicorn comes with a price, as they are defenseless and pure, only evil or someone in a time of desperation would do such a horrible thing. 
Unicorn foals are born pure gold, which makes them even more epic, before they turn 4 and their hair turns silver. Why are they not real?

Loved them in: Harry Potter

9. Cerberus

It's not fluffy, unless it's Fluffy. In Greek mythology, where the story of Cerberus originated, he is known as the three-headed dog with lion claws and a serpent tail who guards the entrance to the underworld, where dead souls reside. In our modern reimagining, Cerberus has been cleaned up (now he's just a dog), brassed up, and set to guard such things as the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. And while we value science and technology highly, and we love dogs above all, we are still partial to the mythical version. There's something lovely in its fierceness.

Loved them in: Greek mythology

10. Hippocampus

We seem to have a horse theme going on in this list, but they're very epic in fantasy books. The hippocampus is included in the Percy Jackson series, they're a combination of a horse and fish and are very fast swimmers, being able to swim around the same speed as a jet ski. They're useful in the story for Percy and his friends, and are used to pull Poseidon's chariot through the sea, being large versions of seahorses. 

Loved them in: Percy Jackson

Having read and loved a lot of fantasy, and following the publication of Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, this list was quite difficult to narrow down to just ten. We could have picked about a hundred. But cuts had to be made. We would, however, love to heard about your favorite magical creatures (specific to a book, or just as they appear in mythology/folklore in general). Leave us a comment below and let us know, or find us on social media where we plot world domination (on Dragons)!